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  Social Responsibility

Published on: Aug. 10, 2020, 12:27 a.m.
Vatsalya Dental offers treatment to poor people in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
  • Dental sealants being applied to tribal children in the Kabini forest area

By Sekhar Seshan. Consulting Editor, Business India

Inclusivity, says Dr. Srivats Bharadwaj, is a way of life at Vatsalya Dental, which he set up in 2003. True to this ethos, the Bengaluru-headquartered chain of dental clinics treats its patients with compassion, which is what its name means.

Dentistry, he points out, is both expensive and extensive; in India, according to the health ministry, dental caries affects about 60 per cent of the people and periodontal disease about 85 per cent. Lack of access to quality care and affordability, combined with ignorance about the importance of oral hygiene, have severely impacted not just oral health, but general health.

Vatsalya’s work in giving back to society begins at home: no patient is ever sent back because he or she can’t afford treatment. Bharadwaj allows his poor patients to pay him whatever they can afford for the world-class treatment facilities he offers, without being subjected to rigid pricing plans. Many also come back weeks or even months later, to pay even this.

Until the Covid-19 pandemic set in, the clinic regularly organised weekend free oral health treatment programmes across the remotest areas of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, for years. It also operates one of the world’s largest free dental care initiatives at T. Begur village, about 40 km from Bengaluru, where over 1500 people queue up for long hours every Sunday morning for free treatment including not just fillings, extractions and root canal surgery, but even advanced procedures like maxilla-facial surgery.

Bharadwaj and his team of dentists, who give up their Sundays to work in the CSR programme, have also adopted Kudur village in Tumakuru district to run regular dental treatment programmes and educate the villagers on oral hygiene.

The ENR Foundation of Germany has supported an initiative by Vatsalya Dental is also been providing free dental treatment to poor and destitute children suffering from cardiac problems, before they undergo their cardiac treatment. This initiative has given a new lease of life to over 2,500 children, Bharadwaj says.

Regretting that oral health continues to be neglected by most people, he points out that poor oral health can lead to various general health complications as the bacteria in the mouth can affect other organs of the body. This led to the Seal India initiative, in which Vatsalya Foundation has partnered with Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) to apply dental sealants on the teeth of an estimated 1,000 children of Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning at the primary and high school levels.

“A majority of oral health problems are traced to cavities that develop on account of decaying,” he explains. “A dental sealant prevents tooth decay.” He now wants to take the campaign to other areas and is targeting a few more schools in the tribal-dominated Heggadadevankote and government schools around Bengaluru.

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